Category Archives: Challenges

Hello, my name is Peter and I am a KFC addict

Today is New Year’s Eve – the last day of excess before the slate is wiped clean. It’s the day when everyone leaves the past behind and tries to change their lives for good, or at least until they try again next New Year’s Eve!!

I think I have a better claim than most people that New Year’s Eve changed my life. It was on this day 18 years ago that I met Cate in an Italian restaurant in London. Although I didn’t know it at the time, we would be engaged less than a year later and married within 18 months. Events don’t get much more life-changing than that!

Then four years ago, on New Year’s Eve 2010, I made a resolution to get off the sofa, shed the increasing amount of weight I was carrying and get myself fit. I had no idea as I made that New Year’s resolution, of the incredible journey I was about to embark on.

I had reached New Year’s Eve 2010 with my weight at an all-time high of 14st 10lbs. That doesn’t sound much if you are six feet tall, but I am not, I’m five feet seven. According to the NHS height weight chart I had strayed in obese territory. I had never thought of myself as obese, porky yes, but obese, really? But let’s not worry about the terminology – it was in danger of becoming a health issue.

Before

14st 10lbs – during the KFC years!

It was especially frustrating for me because for a large part of my life I had been very fit. I ran county level cross country and was in the county rugby squad at school. I spent five years in the Army where being fit was kind of what you did!After the Army I continued playing rugby and running into my early thirties.

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12 stone – KFC a distant memory

It is easy to fall back on convenient excuses for why I let myself get fat and unfit. I could blame a business career, I could blame being married to an excellent cook or even fatherhood. They would all be untrue. The fact is that I just got complacent and stopped bothering. Alongside that, I had a bad relationship with food and the two made for a toxic combination.

As a bachelor living in London, takeaways were my downfall. If I tell you that I lived near an Indian Restaurant that would bring a takeaway to your house and I was on first name terms with the delivery boy, then you get some idea of the scale of the problem.

I also like fast food. For some reason I particularly liked KFC. I liked it so much I would go out of my way to find it – I even had a KFC map in the car which untitled (8)showed every outlet in the UK, so I was never far from the Colonel’s Recipe. Where I worked, it was a Friday lunchtime ritual to send the junior person in the office off to the KFC Drive Thru to bring us back a bucket of the stuff.

In my mind, KFC is still a symbol of all that was wrong with the way I ate in the bad old days.

Then on 31 December 2010 that all changed. I threw the take away menus in the bin and took hold. My aim was to drop two stones by Easter. At the same time I tried to get myself fit. I still remember the first two-mile run. Slow and painful with several walk breaks – I found it hard to believe how far away I was from being the cross-country runner and rugby player of my younger days.

Gradually the weight came off and the runs got less painful and the walk breaks less frequent. Then the distances became longer and the rest, if not exactly history, is documented in the pages of this blog. In 2014 I even managed to race at a weight that started with the words “eleven stone”!

I haven’t been back into a KFC since that day – four years clean! I don’t think I am in quite the same position as a reformed alcoholic or smoker who doesn’t dare have one drink or cigarette for fear of opening the floodgates again. KFC feels like something I used to do then and that I don’t do now and so for the time being at least, it will stay that way. More symbolic than anything.

So on New Year’s Eve I will raise a glass to many things; a happy New Year to everyone, eighteen years with my lovely wife and four years since I took control and unknowingly started the most extraordinary journey. A journey that has taken me to places I never imagined I would go and one on which I have met, actually and virtually, lots of fantastic people many of whom I now think of as friends. That’s worth more than any medal or personal best I have gained along the way. But the best part is that it is a journey that continues with lots of new challenges and it will continue without KFC!

I wish all of you a happy, healthy and prosperous New Year. I hope 2015 brings you everything you wish for.

 

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The 2014 Season – My five favourite photographs

I don’t need to look at the calendar to work out that my 2014 triathlon season is over – a quick look in the fridge is enough. Just four weeks ago I was in that two week “purdah” that I subject myself to before a big race; eating clean, no alcohol and lots of water. Now the fridge has a very “post-season” feel to it. Beer, ice cream, chocolate cake and more.

As I drink my beer and reflect on the season, I do so with a real sense of satisfaction. More important than anything I achieved, I have a lot of really great memories from 2014. I think most of those memories are captured somewhere in photographs. So rather than add another season’s review to the dozens you will see on the Blogoshpere, I have chosen my five favourite photographs from the season. With them comes all of my best memories of the year.

I can’t apologise for them having a very Ironman theme – it was the dominant theme of the year. However I have tried not to make them all pictures of me 🙂

Here they are in reverse order:

5. Ironman UK swim start

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 The date was 20th July. After a year of thinking about it, six months of training for it and a few weeks of proper nerves worrying about it, Ironman UK was here. As I got into the water at 5.45 in the morning all the nerves turned to excitement. Fifteen minutes later the hooter went and we were racing. It was incredible – noisy, frenetic, physical but most of all exhilarating. I love this picture of the start taken from a drone. It brings all those memories flooding back.

4. The Ironman finish line

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No not my Ironman finish line! Completing an Ironman is an incredible feeling. Of all the pictures I have seen, none of them captures the joy of crossing that line more than these. My friend Nick Wall is crossing the line in Nice at Ironman France and the look on his face is one of relief and unbridled joy at getting there. Carrie Power’s picture is a great piece of photography that captures a moment of jubilant celebration – Carrie describes it as: “…getting some air at the finish of IM Mallorca”!

3. Volunteers

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I am glad this photo is one of my favourites because it enables me to give a shout out to all the volunteers who have helped make racing such fun this year. At every event I have been to they have been brilliant. This one was taken at The European Middle Distance Championships in Majorca where the temperature soared into the mid-30s on the run. This picture captures it all. Instructed to hand out sponges to runners, the volunteers took it upon themselves to offer a makeshift shower to cool us down using anything they could lay their hands on. The girl on the right is so intent on keeping athletes cool that she is soaked to the skin herself. She probably didn’t mind as it was so hot, but like all the volunteers I saw this year, she was prepared to go the extra mile to give competitors a great race.

2. WAGS and HABS

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I don’t subject Cate and Matilda to spectating at triathlon events too often, but they were there in a big way in Bolton. They gave up three days to come with me and on race morning they got up at 3.30am to take me to the shuttle bus to the start. They then found their own way to the swim start for 5.30am and spent the next 14 or so hours standing on the side of various roads around Lancashire supporting me. Passing them was a 15-minute boost every time. Here they are at Pennington Flash at 6.00am smiling, like they smiled all day.

1. The Hardest Race

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My favourite photograph of the season was taken at my last race which, because of the extreme heat on the bike and the run, was also the hardest race I have done – not just this season, any season!  It was taken with my friend Judit Leszkovich in the athletes area behind the finish straight after the race. Photographically there are better shots of this moment, but none of them captures the emotions like this one. It shows a combination of the shellshock we were feeling after a brutal race, the relief and joy of reaching the finish (many didn’t) as well as the pride of doing it in GB tri suit. A great end to a great season.

 

Ironman Blues, News & Barbecues

The term “Cold Turkey” was invented to describe the feeling I got about seven days after Ironman UK. Seven days was how long the sense of euphoria lasted – the period in which I would well up each time I remembered another moment from that extraordinary day in Bolton. It is also the length of time I could get away with wearing my finishers T-shirt without washing it before people started giving me a wide berth in the street. And by coincidence it is also how long it took me to realise that the looks I was getting when I wore my medal to go shopping in Sainsbury’s were not always looks of admiration. If I had paid closer attention I would probably have noticed that seven days was also the full extent of how long people were polite enough to appear interested whenever I dragged the conversation back to Ironman!

Seven days then……nothing. The twelve hours a week of training, the diet, the conditioning, the planning, the online banter, the laundry and the sleepless nights leading up to the event all gone in a moment to be replaced with a vacuum, or more accurately The Ironman Blues. An empty feeling that the party is over but also a complete lack of motivation to get off my arse and do anything about it.

Having suffered a minor attack of the blues after running the London Marathon in 2012 I came prepared this time taking the precaution of lining up some fun activities to fill the large M Dot shaped hole in my life.

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Andover Tri does Ironman L-R Carrie Power (IMUK), Me, Jase Briley (Double Enduroman), Louisa Vere (IM Switzerland), Nick Wall (IM France). Standing Peter Holt (IM France)

First up was the Ironman Barbecue. Seven of us from the mighty Andover Tri Club had completed Ironman races in June and July and that alone was worth a celebration. If you were an Ironman it was about as close to Iron heaven as you will get. We all sat down to dinner in our finishers T-shirt (washed!), wearing our medal, drank beer and talked non-stop about our Ironman exploits, pausing only occasionally to let other people talk about there’s. I am not sure the partners saw it quite like that, but we had a great evening. As the drink flowed the tales of Ironman bravado got taller and the plans for next year got bolder. By midnight we were all going sub-12 next year (which would be a feat in itself as none of us got close this year!) and as we would all be there anyway, we agreed to have the 2015 barbecue in Kona!!

The week after the barbecue our household was consumed by a major logistical trauma also known as Pony Club Camp. It is likely that the Task Force that was mobilised to sail to the Falklands on a flotilla of battleships took less kit with them than two 12 year olds took to spend a week camping and riding ponies ten miles from home in a period of mild weather, winds light to moderate. Anyway mission accomplished – they had a ball.

After the emotional upheaval of Ironman and the organisational stress of camp we were off on holiday without a moment to stop and think about Ironman and the blues.

Regular readers will remember last year that we went to the Mark Warner resort in Lemnos which had the feel of a correctional facility for people obsessed with staying fit – so we didn’t go back there. Instead we went to Mark Warner in Corsica which as far as I could tell was no different. We hadn’t even got off the plane before I had met my first triathlete!

A bit like Lemnos the resort was full of middle-aged men and women who may have been hell raisers in their youth but who now were more concerned with morning runs than Tequila Slammers. No Jack Wills, Super Dry or Hollister here, it was strictly lycra. On a positive note, the daily group bike rides provided a whole new audience of people who wanted to listen and ask questions about my Ironman, at least for the first week. In the second week I was trumped by a new arrival who had just done the Marathon des Sables (seven marathons in six days across the Sahara) and even Ironman couldn’t compete. And even if it could, she had done two of those as well.

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King of the Mountains!!!

I managed to get out and do something that would vaguely pass as training on most days. If I had any focus it was on swimming in the sea as the swim in my race in Majorca in October is not only a sea swim but it is likely to be a non-wet suit swim. After swimming 1,500m in the sea every day I now feel at home with that prospect. But even in the sea I was upstaged by my new friend Mark who was training for the Buttermere 10k swim and who was regularly knocking out 5k training sessions. But on the plus side I was awarded the weekly King of The Mountains prize for my cycling antics – mainly because I was the only person the cycling guide recognised at the awards ceremony 

By the time we got home Summer was almost over and Ironman seemed to be a small spec in the rear view mirror and any opportunity to develop a case of the blues had passed. All the focus now seems to be on next year – not because long distance triathletes are an organised bunch, but because the big races are all going on sale now and are selling out quickly. When I say quickly, I mean “Led Zeppelin Reunion Concert” quickly. The new Ironman 70.3 in Staffordshire which doesn’t take place until next June sold all 2,000 places in 15 minutes which was only eclipsed by Challenge Roth selling all 5,000 places in under a minute. It seems the appetite to suffer is alive and well in Britain!

For now I have entered the Outlaw Half again (another one day sell out) which was a feat in itself. Nothing they throw at me on the day of the race will match the stress levels of trying to enter a race online using a Kindle and a dodgy hotel Wi-Fi connection in Corsica while the organisers were regularly posting updates on Facebook of how quickly places were going. Anyway that one is booked and I can forget about it for a while. The priority now is to get my training on with only six and a half weeks left until the European Championships at Challenge Paguera and my first outing in a GB tri suit. More on that another time.

For now enjoy the last few weeks of the season.

 

 

10 things we know about Ironman now that we wish we’d known a year ago

If you have just signed up for your first Ironman or iron distance race and you are wondering what you have let yourself in for, don’t worry, help is at hand in the shape of the Ironman Journey group on Facebook.

IMUK2012_newMany of the 850-odd members of the group have now done at least one Iron distance race. While it is still fresh in everyone’s minds, we have drawn on the Group’s collective wisdom and assembled some tips for todays would be Ironmen. Things we wish we had known a year ago.

This is not about training or coaching; in fact it is the very opposite. It is the kind of real life advice that you won’t find in any coaching manual. So here goes:

1. Have the conversation
Ironman is a selfish game. As you approach the action end of your training you will be out of the house for long periods of time – mostly at weekends and in the evening. This is time that your partner and kids refer to as “family time”. Temporarily it has to become “Ironman time”. There is nothing worse than coming back from a long ride to an atmosphere because you haven’t got the family on your side.

More than one person has said that they could never repay the debt to their wife / husband for all their support (although only Iain Edgar’s wife has said she will see that he manages to repay it!). Ironman is an infinitely better experience if you do it as a team and take the family on the journey with you. That needs a proper conversation right at the start.

2. Join the Ironman Journey Facebook Group
Everyone thought it, Cath Hartwell suggested it. At home and at work you will quickly run out of people willing to listen to Ironman talk. The Facebook Group is full of likeminded people. It is the only place where people will think it is normal that you want to cycle 112 miles before running a marathon.

The group is full of reassurance, advice, banter, and top tips. But most important is has a handful of Ironman veterans who are able to reassure you that the menopausal mood swings, high anxiety, sleepless nights and motivational troughs are all perfectly normal. That’s OK then!

I met several people on race day that I had met virtually through the group and there are many more who I am sure I will meet at future events – people who I hope will become friends. Isn’t that one of the reason we all do this?

3. Perspective: Part 1
During the long winter months of training it will get tough. The sheer scale of the challenge can also get under your skin and will sometime appear near impossible. Try to keep things in perspective. You are not being asked to stop the polar ice caps from melting or to solve the national debt problem. You are training for a race that you want to do and have volunteered for. Most important, remember that you are doing this for fun. This is a hobby. If it all gets on top of you see paragraph 2!

4. Nutrition, nutrition, nutrition
All the coaching manuals will tell you how important it is to get your nutrition right on the day. It can make the difference between finishing or not. But here are some tips born out of bitter experience:

Man cannot live on gels alone! Make sure you build some solid food into your race. The bike is the most obvious place to do it. If you are doing Ironman UK you will pass the special needs feed station twice. Pack a picnic and make the bike leg more social like Ines Carr did. But Jason Anderton offers a word of caution – if you fill your tri suit pockets with food, don’t forget to empty them before you disrobe to go to the loo or the last you will hear of your bananas and Powerbars is a splash.

On a serious note, start experimenting with nutrition now. Not everyone gets on with all nutrition as many in the group will testify. Combine a “gel tummy” with race day nerves and the results can be explosive – literally!! A few things to watch out for. Adrian O’Brien advises never to trust a fart on the run. For Chris Glover that was too late, his trust was betrayed in T2, so his advice is simple; carry some loo paper! It’s not all bad news for Chris. His mishap has already entered Ironman UK folklore and will be known forever as “Doing a Glover”.

Niamh Lewis has the last word on this topic and brings a ladies fashion eye to the problem. If you are doing Ironman, don’t ever wear a white tri suit!

5. Be organised
If you are like me (and it seems a few are), once you get to the race venue your mind turns to mush and even the simplest decisions become difficult. So try and get as many decisions as possible made before you arrive.

Jason Walkley offered a top tip for those doing 140.6 races that use transition bags. Work out what needs to go in your bike and run bags in the week before the race – then simply take it to the race venue in separate bags and decant it into your transition bags when you get them at registration. One less piece of thinking to do on the day. But make sure you do a final check and avoid Adrian O’Brien’s experience of cycling 112 miles with no socks and brand new bike shoes.

Kaine Pritchett advises against arriving at the venue on the Saturday before a Sunday race. Registering, checking in transition bags, bike racking and attending a briefing is a lot to pack into one day and adds a lot of stress at a time when you want to be de-stressing. Get there on Friday.

On a more practical note Hannah Elliot advises that you make a note of your race number so that you don’t forget it and end up in tears looking in the wrong row in the T1 changing tent!

6. Take your time and don’t panic
Onto the race itself now. Several people offered advice about the swim. 10514594_705906046111239_6860745791808719757_nParticularly be careful at what point you enter the water – with thousands of others around you it is difficult to re-position yourself once you are in. I just joined the queue and once we were in I found myself mid-pack – not somewhere I would have chosen.

Maria Greaves took this to a whole different level and ended up right at the front of the swim and endured what she describes as an aquatic pub brawl!

Wherever you end up in the swim, Emma Hampson offers the comforting assurance that you won’t die so advises against her approach which was to burst into tears as she got into the water.

Lots of first time Ironmen offer advice on not rushing things – 17 hours is a long time. Rob Jude says don’t be afraid to spend the necessary time in T1 and T2 to get comfortable – you are a long time biking and running. Clive Onions is one of many who recommends you invest some of that time in applying Udderley Smooth Chamois Cream around the undercarriage in T1 – Jason Clarke prefers Vaseline!

Vicki Gale recommends you change socks in T2 – having done it myself, I can safely say that Vicki’s tip is one the most important changes I made all day. Starting the run in dry fresh socks was bliss.

A word of caution here from Andrew Rudda. He agrees you shouldn’t rush things, but also suggest you keep a bit of time in the bank to absorb a mishap. Andrew had an episode with a puncture that he couldn’t fix and by the time the mechanic got to him he had missed the bike cut off

7. It’s not a Marathon, it’s an Ironman run
Tim Lebon takes the credit for this one. Anyone who has done an Ironman will know exactly what this means. Normal Marathon rules don’t apply. I read a great article recently which said that an Ironman Marathon is not like a normal Marathon that turns ugly at 20 miles – it starts ugly. Forget your normal thinking about pace and splits – think survival. You have one aim and that is to get to the finish.

Walking is not an admission of defeat – virtually everyone walks at some point during the Ironman run. I had breakfast the morning after Ironman UK with Becky Hoare who clocked a 3.50hrs marathon to finish in 11.10hrs, won her age group and is going to Kona. Becky walked through every feed station.

So take the walking moments to meet your fellow competitors and help each other through it. Most of my best memories of the day are from the run for exactly that reason.

8. Leave your watch at home and enjoy yourself
This was multiple Ironman Jason Briley’s advice to the Group before Ironman UK. You only cross the finish line of your first Ironman once – so make the most of it.

Nobody doing Ironman for the first time really knows what their finish time will be, so why heap all the pressure on yourself of chasing a time that you have pretty much guessed. There will be plenty of future Ironman races for chasing times – just enjoy the first one and aim to finish.

From my own experience I didn’t completely follow Jase’s advice. I had a watch on during the run but the battery died at the start of the last lap. I felt liberated and enjoyed that last lap as much as any part of the race. I could hear Briley in my ear saying: “I told you so”!!

Iain Edgar agrees with this – his single piece of advice is to enjoy yourself. Carrie Power adds a commercial twist recommending that if you enjoy it for no other reason remember you have paid a lot to be there!!

9. Keep some perspective part 2
One thing you can be certain of is that things won’t go to plan. That may be a minor inconvenience, it may be worse. One in five of those who entered Ironman UK this year didn’t finish (some didn’t start). Hopefully that won’t be you, but if it is try and keep some perspective like Cath Hartwell who had to pull out after a bike crash. Cath’s philosophy is simple: “Knock me down 7 times. I’ll get up 8”. She’s already entered Ironman UK 2015 and already has 850 supporters!

I’ll leave the last word on this to Andy Holgate – after all it is his fault that many of us were there at all. Sadly Andy’s race at Ironman UK this year ended in an ambulance. He says:

“Sometimes things happen that are out of your control that can end your race. Don’t dwell on it, stay positive, refocus and make a promise to yourself to come back stronger. Perspective, an Ironman DNF is not the end of the world :-)”

10. So if you have your partner on side, got your nutrition sorted, joined the group, ditched your watch and you’re organised and ready to roll, there is only one tip left to give – an Ironman Journey Group favourite: Don’t be shit!!

A date with The Ironman

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Knock knock, we’re here!

It’s race week. As if I need reminding, someone posted a picture on Facebook of the Ironman banner tied to the front of Bolton Town Hall with the ever so slightly sinister caption: “Knock knock, we’re here”. I am not sure if it caused the release of a shot of adrenalin or a little bit of wee. Either way, it got my heart rate up and my week off to a lively start.

Monday night was my last Club track session before Ironman. At the end it was hugs from all the girls and manly handshakes from the men wishing me luck. Sam, our longest serving coach reminded me: “…we’ll all be following you online on Sunday. Remember that when you are out on the course. It will help”. I drove home feeling a little tearful. In my defence it doesn’t take much to make me well up during this emotional roller coaster that is Ironman race week. I am sure if it caught me at the right moment, the Shipping Forecast could have me in tears!

My support crew has also been busy this week with race day preparations. 10423723_10203250841805396_6413460381151933135_nMatilda has been hard at work producing a banner to hold up at the roadside. Hopefully I will see a lot of it on the bike and the run and it will make my job a little easier.

So far I feel OK. We travel up to Bolton tomorrow (Friday) when I expect the whole experience to crank up a notch or two as the Ironman process takes over. Registration, expo, race briefing Friday. Then familiarisation swim, bike racking, transition bags on Saturday. And then it gets serious.

It concludes with 2,000 nervous athletes standing on the shore of Pennington Flash as the clock approaches 6.00am on Sunday wondering what the day ahead has in store for them.

Everyone starting on Sunday, and those in whose footsteps we follow, know how much of a challenge Ironman is. They know better than anyone that it is not just about 140.6 miles that thousands of spectators will see in Bolton on Sunday, but just as much about the thousands of miles they haven’t seen. It is hard to imagine as we bask in a heat wave that for many this incredible journey began on cold winter mornings in January. All of that commitment for one day – or one glorious moment.

Everyone will have his own goal in mind. Me, I am not going to Bolton seeking a Kona slot, or a prize or even a fast time. I am there to finish. I am not interested in being better than anybody else. I just want to be the best me I can be on the day. If I manage that and I finish, there won’t be a happier man in Lancashire.

It’s been a long time coming. It’s been a journey that I have really enjoyed and I hope I will enjoy the race as much. Now it’s here, I can’t wait to get on with it.

Good luck everyone!

In my mind

When I am running, in my head my running style is the same smooth, floating style as Steve Cram.

CoeCram460 (2)When I am swimming, in my head I have a smooth long stroke and I cut through the water effortlessly.

If I step out of my head for a moment and into the real world, I know none of this is true – but that doesn’t matter. Right now I am preparing for a battle which, in the absence of injury or a mechanical problem, will be largely won or lost in my head.

With ten days to go, there is little I can do to my body that will improve my chances on 20th July – that small task has consumed most of the last six months but is now largely complete. All I can do is to try and keep my fitness levels where they are and stay sharp for race day. So a lot of my time now is being spent working on what is going on in my head.

Someone asked me the other day if I was getting psyched up for the big day. Are you kidding? Psyched up? I have been permanently psyched up for the last two months. I can’t watch an Ironman motivational video without bursting into tears. Even following my friends via the online athlete tracker as they did Ironman France I was welling up. My problem isn’t getting psyched up, it’s trying to stay calm!

In an ideal world I would like to remain calm right up to the moment when the hooter goes at 6.00am on Sunday week. When the hooter does go, I hope I can go calmly about my business. There is no hurry and it is likely to be a very long day, so no rush of blood to the head needed.

A far more likely scenario is a week of obsessing about the problems before and during the race. Once you go looking for them, there are lots to be found.

Sheephouse Lane, one of the two climbs on the bike course seems to have found its way into many peoples’ heads to the extent that it is now bigger by reputation than it is on the map! But such is the size of the task that it is not surprising that I, and hundreds of other first timers like me, are all very nervous and allowing our minds to run riot. Managing the mind is a big challenge!

Apart from some training and some mind games, the next ten days is all about getting organised. I have lots to do – bike service, change the tyres, new cleats, check wet suit over, get a massage, pack my kit, unpack it, check it and pack it again (that little loop will consume two days alone!) and so the list goes on.

And then next week there is the haircut! For Ironman I am going short. Short is normally the preserve of kids or men who are bald and who if they didn’t shave it all would look like Friar Tuck. I don’t qualify on either count. I could try and pretend short is more aerodynamic on the bike, but as I will be wearing a helmet throughout, that excuse won’t wash either.

The truth is that it is another small part of the mind games. I want to look like I mean business. In my mind I want feel like I could be an Ironman. As with my imaginary view of my running and swimming style, sometimes in this game that is so dependent on your mind, it is not what you really are that matters, it is what you think you are!

Have a relaxing and productive last ten days everyone. Not long now!

My body is eating itself

Two weeks and three days to go and the nerves are beginning to jangle.

Everything became a bit more real this week as three of my friends completed 10491098_10152549189272288_4681211261765486426_nIronman France in Nice. Up until now I have to confess that I have been hiding behind my friends. In my mind Ironman UK was after France and so if Ironman France hadn’t happened then Ironman UK wasn’t here yet. Well it just did and it is. On Sunday evening on La Promenade des Anglais, Nick Wall, Liz Mayon-White and Pete Holt became Ironmen. Heroes!

Meanwhile back in the UK my training was reaching a crescendo with one last push. The last two weeks have been full on – 32 hours of training, two one hundred-mile bike rides, long runs, full Iron distance open water swims and more. I have emptied the tank and now it is time to let it recharge.

I hesitate to use the word taper because to me that word has connotations of putting your feet up and declaring training over. Nothing could be further from the truth. My training continues but the really long sessions are done. I plan to keep some volume and intensity for the next week and then ease off for the last ten days to allow my body to fully recover before race day. But I will continue to train lightly even during race week.

One of the side effects of the huge volume of training has been on my body weight. I reckon that in each of the last two weeks I have burned about 12,000 calories over and above the 2,500 a normal man burns just by existing. Surprisingly that amount of calories is quite hard to replace, especially if you try and do it sensibly. It is equivalent to 140 slices of granary bread (20 a day!!) or 80 cream eggs!! Without a stream of cream eggs to keep the calorie count up, my body has turned to its own fat stores for help. It is literally feasting on itself.

Even though I am constantly hungry and eating ad lib, my weight has gone down. For the first time in maybe 20 years my weight recently started with the words “11 stone”. Maybe I have stumbled upon an effective fool proof weight loss regime – on second thoughts it probably has a limited appeal!

In other news I had the most pleasant surprise this week. On the strength of my result at the Outlaw Half, I received an email from British Triathlon telling me that I have been given a place to race for Great Britain in my age group at the European Middle Distance Championship in Majorca in October.

It is impossible to put into words what that means to me. At first I just felt Zerod-Tri-Suit-500x500excited as I rushed around booking flights and hotels. It wasn’t until a little later when I went online to order my GBR triathlon suit that it suddenly sank in. I am going to race for Great Britain! I am going to race in a GB tri suit with my name on it and everything! What an honour.

My 82 year old Mother came to dinner on Monday to celebrate her birthday. She was naturally thrilled by my news – a proud Mum. But the spice went out of it for her when she learned that we weren’t going to Majorca on a chartered British Airways Team GB plane. Well she has a point!

But having done what I need to do to get organised for October, I now have to put all that to the back of my mind. Ironman is not something you can go into preoccupied, it needs to have my full attention for the next 18 days. My GB selection will be a lovely distraction to return to after that and will hopefully go some way to relieving the post Ironman blues that everyone talks about.

To everyone doing Ironman UK, happy tapering. We are almost there!!